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New London mayor may shut Delhi, Mumbai offices

May 29, 2008 14:43 IST

Boris Johnson, the newly elected mayor of London, is likely to close down Greater London Authority's offices in New Delhi and Mumbai that were opened by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The offices called 'London India Offices', were launched in November 2007 during Livingstone's visit to India, were set up to promote trade relations between London and India.

Johnson, who trounced Livingstone in the May 1 mayoral elections, has launched a review whether the GLA's international offices perform a useful strategic function and represent value for money.

The GLA currently funds six offices in Caracas, New Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai and Brussels and employs a consultant in Moscow.

The cost of maintaining the two offices in India for 2008-09 was 371,021 pounds, according to the mayor's office.

"We have started the process of considering which of the Greater London Authority's international offices perform a useful strategic function and deliver value for money," Johnson said.

"We will look at the Brussels office and its role in pre-empting potentially harmful European legislation. We will consider the role of the Indian and Chinese offices in encouraging inward investment and business opportunities for London. We will also look at which functions could be performed by the UK's foreign embassies," Johnson said.

"We are eager to get on and review the international office's role in increasing foreign investment and employment, delivering value for money and ensuring London takes full advantage of emerging international markets. We will also assess whether other sources of funding including sponsorship should be used," he added.

As part of Johnson's bid to distance his tenure from Livingstone's, his office also announced the closure of The Londoner newspaper that was launched by Livingstone.

The mayor's office said closing the newspaper would save nearly 3 million pounds.

"A percentage of this saving will be spent on planting 10,000 new street trees as London's new Mayor continues to deliver on his manifesto pledges," the office said.

Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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